Hagee’s Semitism

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Be Nice to the Jews.jpgIn a brief screed inspired by Joe Lieberman’s appearance at Tuesday’s Christians United for Israel banquet, Joe Klein assails Lieberman for allying himself with someone–Pastor John Hagee–who bases his support for Israel on an End Times scenario that postulates the damnation of all Jews who don’t acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Savior:

Hagee’s flagrant support for Israel has its basis in Scripture, to be sure, but in weird Scripture–namely Revelation, the strangest book of the New Testament. Revelation is the source of the phantasmagoria known as the Rapture, in which the battle of Armageddon is fought (against the Arabs, one expects), Israel triumphs, Jesus returns in celebration, lifts all Believers to heaven…and everyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus is incinerated.

This is an inaccurate shorthand version of standard premillennial dispensationalist thinking. (The Rapture of the faithful to heaven precedes a seven-year Tribulation, which ends with the Battle of Armageddon resulting in Christ’s return and 1,000-year rule, concluding with the Final Judgment.) The real problem, however, is that Hagee is not a standard premillennial dispensationalist. And as convenient as it is for liberal Jews to believe so, it’s just not the case that evangelical supporters of Israel, dispensationalist and non-dispensationalist alike (including Hagee), base their support of the Jewish state on Revelation-based End Times theology alone, if at all.
The simple and straightforward basis of evangelical support of Israel lies in Abraham’s covenant with God in Genesis 15:

On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river [a] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates–the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

This is not the only relevant biblical passage on God’s promise of the Land of Israel to what can plausibly be considered the Jewish people but it will do for now. Hagee himself refers to it in his books In Defense of Israel (p. 53) and Jerusalem Countdown (rev. ed. p. 167). The point is that Hagee and other evangelicals support the Jewish State because they believe God gave the Land of Israel to the Jews.
As for the rest of his theology of the Jews, there Hagee verges on Christian heterodoxy–or, depending on your point of view, strays over into it. He explicitly rejects what he calls Replacement Theology–the idea that “Israel has been rejected and replaced by the church to carry out the work one entrusted to Israel…[that the] Jewish people have ceased to be God’s people, and the church is now spiritual Israel.” That view, he claims, is a “misconception…rooted in the theological anti-Semitism that began in the first century.” (In Defense of Israel, p. 145.) When that book came out a year ago, he claimed it would “shake Christian theology,” and indeed, he has drawn considerable fire from evangelicals attacking him for contending that Christianity did not supersede Judaism and that Jews did not err in failing to accept Jesus as their Savior. (See here and here and–from a Messianic Jew–here.) In fact, Hagee is, at least to my eye, a little slippery about what he believes regarding the availability of salvation to the Jewish people. In an article by Abe Levy in the December 13, 2007 San Antonio Express-News (not generally available online, see Nexis), he insisted that his views were orthodox but promised a yet undelivered clarification. What couldn’t be clearer, however, is that he does not believe in evangelizing the Jews. As he wrote, “It is time for Christians everywhere to recognize that the nation of Israel will never convert to Christianity…” (p. 148)
The point, then, is that if there’s any evangelical leader whose support for Israel can be taken as theologically non-offensive to Jews, Hagee’s the guy. Whether that justifies making a close alliance with him and his organization is another question. His Mideast politics are, from a J Street perspective, problematic to say the least. And, as I’ve written in this space before (here and here), his anti-Catholic credentials are very substantial. But unless someone’s got evidence that Hagee secretly believes things different from what he’s written most recently, it’s time to put the End Times club away.

  • Ronald Kiener

    No! No! No! My gosh have you got this one wrong! For starters, see the (long) video at http://www.jewsonfirst.org/

  • Asinus Gravis

    Hagee clearly does not read his Torah closely. The land promised to the alien resident Abraham, was said to belong to him and all of his childen.
    Abraham’s first born son was Ishmael, the purported father of the Arabs. His second born son that he attempted to murder was Isaac. Through Isaac we get Jacob and Esau. The latter married a non-Jew and was the father of many peoples–agains Arabs.
    Hagee should have recognized that the Arabs and the Jews now occupy virtually all of the lands promised to Abraham and his offspring.
    So, God does not need Hagee mucking around in these matters and muddying the waters or negotiations.

  • Mark Silk

    Not sure what you mean by wrong, Ron, but I just watched the video and don’t see how it contradicts my argument. The inclusion of the name of Rothschild in what looks like Hagee speaking a couple of decades ago can be considered anti-Semitic. Of course, Hagee is a pre-mil, but it’s noteworthy that, in the reproduced discussion, he doesn’t go into any of the standard stuff about the necessary ingathering and conversion of the Jews. Only when pushed to the wall by Terry Gross does he admit that you have to accept Jesus to be saved–not anything out of the ordinary for an evangelical, you’ll agree. My surmise, for what it’s worth, is that since that 2006 interview (and given the huge success he’s been enjoying with CUFI), he’s been dabbling in what we’d call post-supersessionist theology–and catching some evangelical hell for it.

  • God’s Promise of Land to Israel – An Everlasting Covenant
    Abraham (Abram) was in the heart of the area, sometimes referred to as the West Bank, between Bethel and Ai, in the mountains of Israel (Eze.37:22), when the Lord promised him the land (Gen.13:17).
    The boundaries of the land promised to Abraham were from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates (Gen.15:18).
    The promise passed from Abram to Isaac to Jacob and to his seed after him, a multitude of people (Gen.17:`9, Gen.28:3-4, Gen.28:13).
    At the Sixth Seal the partial blindness of Israel will be lifted and the fullness of the Gentiles will come in (Rom.11:25).
    From the Sixth SEAL appearance of the Lord with power and majesty (Re.6:12-17, Isa.13:6-11, Joel 2:31) FORWARD, the house of Israel will know that Jesus Christ is the Lord their God (Eze.39:22). God will pour out His Spirit upon the house of Israel and with the house of Judah (Jer.31:31-34, Heb.8:10-12).
    At the Sixth SEAL (Re.6:12-17), Israel will be gathered unto their own land (Eze.39:28), which God gave them from Abram (Gen.13:17, Gen.15:18), Isaac, and Jacob with his seed after him (Gen.17:29, Gen.28:4).
    The 144,000 of the twelve tribes of Israel will be in Judaea when the abomination of desolation is SET UP (Dan.12:11). That will be the time that they are to flee into the mountains (Matt.24:16).
    The 144,000 are protected during the three and a half years of tribulation (Re.12:14) when Satan goes after the rest of the seed of the woman (Re.12:17).
    In the “new” earth (Re.21:1, Isa.65:17) Judah and the children of Israel (Eze.37:14-21) will be one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel (Eze.37:22, Gen.15:18), the land promised for an EVERLASTING COVENANT from Abram, Isaac and Jacob with his seed after him, and David, God’s servant, shall be one king to them all, their prince FOR EVER (Eze.37:22-25)
    Patricia © Bible Prophecy on the Web
    Author of the self-study aid, The Book of Revelation Explained © 1982

  • Rob Winslow

    What a bunch of intricate, nonsensical bull we get from Hagee and attempts to define/defeat him by exegesis. I guess it can be fun for some, but we end up seeing how irrelevant such religious disputations are. The whole thing sounds like a Talmudic disputation or a medieval Christian theological argument.